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PNG extends election date as nation recovers from violence

The general elections in Papua New Guinea will now take two more weeks to finalise as Governor General Sir Bob Dadae accepted a request by Electoral Commissioner Simon Sinai to extend the deadline from July 29 to Aug 12.

The request was put forward by the Commission to allow more time for counting to be concluded properly, and for the winners of the 118 provincial and open seats to be declared.

Sir Bob said in a statement on Tuesday that it would be impossible to complete all counting by July 29.

“The extension will save time and resources and  avoid a failed election which will be costly if we were to start all over again,” he said.

Governor General of PNG Sir Bob Dadae (seated) and caretaker prime minister James Marape on the left. Picture: Department of the Prime Minister

The general elections in PNG have been a far cry as incidents of violence, vote rigging, vote buying and hijacking of ballot boxes overshadowed peaceful voting elsewhere in the country.

Sir Bob also made several recommendations to improve future elections.

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This happened a day after the Commonwealth Observers gave a damning report on how the elections were conducted in PNG.

The boxes being brought into the Kundiawa Police Station for safe-keeping. Picture: Royal PNG Constabulary

Sir Bob recommended that the Electoral Commission get its finances and manpower resources sorted out early for the next elections and introduce a system which has technological features making counting and verification easier such as a biometric system.

“This way we avoid all the problems we have witnessed in this election – the hijacking of boxes, disputes and delays in counting and violence,” Sir Bob said.

“A number of people have lost their lives from election-related violence. It is very unfortunate and should not have happened at all.”

Hagen open seat winner William Duma congratulated by Superintendent John Sagom at the Kimininga Police Barracks at the official declaration on July 26. Picture: Royal PNG Constabulary

Meanwhile, life has started to return to normal in the PNG capital, Port Moresby, just two days after the streets were overtaken by machete wielding election supporters.

Graphic videos showed how these men attacked anyone who did not support their political interest, an incident which many Papua New Guineans have called a day of shame.

The PNG Government had to send armored vehicles with heavily armed defence forces to patrol the capital to maintain law and order.

Many from the business community have spoken of damages they had incurred because of the violence.

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